Kuna Siuwai Pokong details over thirty traditional medicinal plants with their healing properties and cultural values from the Siwai region of Bougainville. Bougainville Island is an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea.
The project stems from Chief Alex Dawia, Taa Lupumoiku Clan, and Chief Jeffrey Noro, Rura Clan concerns that tacit oral knowledge systems are becoming eroded due to external influences. One way to preserve this vital cultural knowledge is to codify it within a book format for current and future generations.
The book prioritises local Motuna language throughout since language and plant knowledge are inextricably linked in the Siwai culture. It has been designed for the Siwai people first and foremost and aligns to the cultural need for art in Bougainville to be practical and functional.
The book is an outcome of a cross-cultural project with Australian photographer Kate Robertson, and the book is published by The Kainake Project, a community organisation in Bougainville. The Kainake Project promotes the use of traditional leadership structures, as well as cultural and traditional knowledge, for locals to sustainably conserve their environment.
Books have been handed to schools throughout Siwai and a portion is available for purchase internationally, with all money supporting community projects. Book sale proceeds have already purchased a water tank for the Kainake Village. The next project will be a book recording local traditional stories. Kuna Siuwai Pokong can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The printing of the book is funded by the UNDP through its Small Grants Program.
Australian Museum (AUS)
Field Museum (USA)
Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery (PNG)